Crowds of people dancing in Liverpool city centre as strict coronavirus restrictions were introduced have shamed the city, the mayor has said.
Merseyside Police said officers dispersed a large gathering in the Concert Square and Fleet Street area at 10pm on Tuesday, as bars shut their doors for the final time ahead of new Tier 3 measures, which came into force on Wednesday.
The city has seen a rapid rise in coronavirus infections, and intensive care capacity in its hospitals is reported to be over 90% full, with Covid-19 patients making up an increasing proportion of patients.
Footage on social media showed large numbers of young people dancing in the street outside bars, and in one video a police car could be seen driving through a crowd while revellers banged their hands on the side of the vehicle.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said on Twitter: “These pictures shame our city, attacking our brave police officers is unacceptable.
“Our health service is creaking, 300 in hospital and 30 people dead in week. Ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures.”
Merseyside Chief Constable Andy Cooke told the PA news agency he was “absolutely livid” when he saw the scenes.
He said: “The actions we saw last night were selfish, dangerous, childish and brought shame onto our city.
“We have all got to come together. It is about looking after the most vulnerable and the actions of those last night didn’t reflect that at all.”
He said the “vast majority” of people on Merseyside were abiding by the rules but said those who were “blatantly disregarding the law” were putting extra pressure on the force.
Mr Cooke said those gathered in Concert Square were quickly moved on by officers and there were no significant incidents in other parts of the city, although 38 fines were issued on Tuesday evening for breaches of the legislation.
Chief Superintendent Peter Costello said: “While we understand how the new rules which are due to be implemented on Wednesday are frustrating for some, we would continue to advise everyone to abide by them – including keeping social distancing – for the safety of everyone.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told Times Radio she was “saddened” by the pictures.
She said: “I grew up in Liverpool. I know it is a great city. But frankly it is irresponsible behaviour.
“We are trying to help the city… I’m sure the mayor may want to consider more (measures) while we are also providing financial support.”
City centre councillor Nick Small wrote on Twitter: “Idiots putting themselves, their friends, families and everyone else at risk, destroying jobs and our hospitality sector while they do it.”
Other parts of the city appeared quiet as bar staff pulled their final pints ahead of the 10pm curfew.